Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 Greensfelder Challenge race recap

Last weekend (5/7) was the DRJ/GORC Greensfelder Challenge at Greensfelder county park near Eureka Mo.  It's part of the UFD East series and the proceeds from the race benefit GORC, the St. Louis trail building organization.  I've done the race the last couple of years and it's always a great event that brings out a lot of the St. Louis mountain bike racing community.

I had Syllamo's Revenge the next weekend, which is one of my biggest races of the year, so I entered this race with a goal of putting out a nice solid effort without breaking anything or injuring myself in the process.  

I signed up for the endurance class which is a race where you do as many laps as you can with a 3 hour cutoff.  If you start your last lap before the 3 hours you can finish that lap.  With a lap distance of just over 7 miles I figured it would be a 4 or 5 lap race.

At the starting line I was surprised how many people had signed up.  There are usually 9 or 10 that do the endurance class at series races, but there were over 25.  That's either a lot of people preparing for Syllamo's Revenge, or endurance racing is getting more popular.

The race started with a pretty fast pace and when we hit the trail I was sitting in 4th with Aaron Fader, Dan Miller and Jeremy Bock in front of me.  When we got to the first long rocky downhill I nearly wrecked so I backed off to get my bike under control and I lost the leaders.  But on the subsequent climb I was able to catch back up to Jeremy.  That repeated many times.  

The trail on the first lap was pretty good.  A little muddy but not bad.  On the second lap it was pretty bad.  The rocks and some of the climbs were slick and where there were leaves mixed with the mud it would get packed between the tire and chainstays.  But the sun was out and on each subsequent lap the trail was getting drier and drier.  

Here's a picture of me coming through the start/finish area:
On the second lap I saw Dan Miller on the side of the trail fixing a flat.  He had cut the sidewall on his rear tire in the rocks.  That put me in third.

There was one section of the trail with an uphill rock garden that I couldn't ride, so I had to push the bike for 20 yards or so.  On the third lap I caught up with Jeremy right before this section.  We both walked up the hill and as I jumped on my bike at the top I noticed my front tire was flat.  The bead was still on the rim and I couldn't see any stans leaking out so I figured I'd just burped it.  So instead of putting in a tube I just filled it with air using the CO2 canister I was carrying.  That allowed Jeremy to get away once again.

Then about 15 minutes later as I was making a hard turn I realized that my front tire was going flat again.  Upon inspection I found a small hole in the sidewall of the tire about a half inch from the tread.  I didn't have enough CO2 to fill a tube so I just aired the tire back up hoping it would get me to the start/finish area where I had several CO2's and tubes.  The thing is, I had a plug kit in my pocket that I bought for just this situation and it would have fixed the sidewall hole, but I've never used it before and I forgot all about it.

I limped to the end of the lap and on the final climb the tire was pretty spongy, but ride-able.  When I got to my table I put a tube in my tire and was passed by Jason Zoll and Mitch Johnson.  Now I was in fifth.  

The wasted time of airing my tire twice and putting a tube in meant there wasn't enough time for a fifth lap, so I headed out on my fourth and final lap with the goal of riding hard and having fun.  It was the best lap of the day.  The trails were in great shape and I was feeling good.  About halfway through I caught up with Mitch, and he let me by on a climb.  I rolled through the finish in fourth pretty satisfied with the day.

After the race I ate some delicious BBQ provided by GORC and got to talk with several people I hadn't seen in awhile.  Good times.

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